The Long Dark Tea-Time of My iPhone


I like the idea of technology.  I love what it is supposed to do.  I love how it’s supposed to help make our lives easier.  I’m amazed at the ever-evolving and ever-expanding capabilities, former-pipe-dreams-turned-possibilities.

But for some reason, I’m jinxed.  My relationship with technology is a one-way street; it doesn’t love me back.  It never seems to work for me the way it does for other people.

My partner declares that I must have a strange electromagnetic signature or something (no, he’s not New Age, per se; we actually are electromagnetic entities).  He figures that the signature emanating from me somehow messes up electronic gadgets.

I’m inclined to believe him.

So, we’ve already established that technology and I don’t get along.  I have a fairly rough and frustrated time with it.

Let’s complicate the situation a little further: I dislike change.  Well, let me rephrase that:  I dislike unnecessary change, or change that complicates my life, or change that seems to take life a step backwards, or change for the sake of change itself.  I’m not a stick-in-the-mud that hangs onto archaic gadgets, refusing to even look at or consider the newer technology in existence.  I’m also not afraid of it.

Rather, I’m skeptical.  I’m jaded.  I’ve been burned by too many software updates and new hardware/firmware releases that have failed to deliver anything constructive.  I’ve had it up to here with beta-versions of OSs and other apps being released labeled as “finished products”.  They’re shoddy and buggy.  Let’s face it: if you’re a software developer who has just released a finished-product OS or app, and you find that you immediately have to issue a “patch” for something, then you didn’t take enough care or pay enough attention or do a thorough enough job in creating your product in the first place.  Yet, that’s what tech companies do.

Therefore, when I decide to upgrade my software or swap out old cell phones or computers for new ones, I drag my feet a little.  I take my time, I weigh my pros and cons, I consider what’s in it for me versus what I’ll have to give up, I make my decision slowly and cautiously, and then I make my move, feeling solid and comfortable, having full knowledge of what I’m getting myself into.

When a new release (be it a cell phone, laptop, tablet, desktop, etc) comes out, I don’t pounce.  I watch and wait.  I exercise patience.  Surely, problems will be discovered, verbalized, and published on the web.  That’s what I wait for–I wait to see what others have to say.  It’s not that I’m a sheep who just goes with the flow; in fact, I’m quite the contrary; it’s the sheeple who are lining up outside the stores, snapping up those new gadgets the micro-second they become available.  Rather, I simply choose not to be a beta-test guinea pig for some multinational tech corporation.  And I’m certainly not going to pay for the privilege of doing so.

So, by the time I do get a new gadget, it’s been out for a while.  My theory is that by then, the bugs will have been discovered and hopefully fixed, and usually, that theory seems to hold water.

In 2014, I finally swapped out my aging, failing iPhone 4 for a shiny, crisp iPhone 5.  Yes, in 2014, and yes, that means that the iPhone 5 had been available for almost two years already.  Which also means that any bugs they found or recalls they had to issue stood a good chance of having been taken care of.

I was really happy with my iPhone 5.  Of course, it wasn’t long before, in the race to rapid-release software updates, I started getting nagged to update my software.

I declined, each time.

Why?  For several reasons.

First, what I had at that time worked well for me.

Second, I don’t go surfing to questionable websites, and I’ve never (yet) gotten smacked with a virus on an Apple product (and that’s with running around the internet without any antivirus protection whatsoever).  So I don’t see myself in desperate need of security patches.  Maybe that makes me foolish.  But for almost six years now, that strategy has worked for me.

Third, I can count on one hand (OK–two fingers) the number of times since 2007 that I’ve upgraded (OS, browsers, etc) and been happy with it.  I’ve upgraded various technology dozens of times, and I can only recall probably twice (max) that I’ve nodded in satisfaction and said, “yep, this was a good move.”  The rest of the time, my reactions have ranged from the “well that was pointless; I don’t notice any difference at all” to the “oh shit, I really wish I wouldn’t have done that.  This sucks.  Where’s my reinstall disk?”

Fourth, I can’t revert back to my previous setup if I find that I can’t stand the new version.  The manufacturers really don’t want you doing that, so they make it unreasonably difficult, if not flat-out impossible, to do so.

Thus, I decline the nags (“push notifications” – on a sidenote, I don’t like to be “pushed”; do you?) to upgrade.  I let others take that fall (the people who can put up with this kind of thing); I’m not going to follow the Pied Piper to my technological death, thanks.

For quite a while, my phone worked wonders.  I loved it, and it loved me.  It was an iPhone honeymoon, bliss and all.  It was crisp, clear, functional, intuitive, durable, and rock-solid stable/reliable.  Truly, it was flawless.

For about a year (give or take).

And then, water from the Sea of Issues started to trickle, past my Dam of Upgrade Refusals.

The first issue was a constant nagging that involved iCloud.  These notifications would pop up at random, and I would have to dismiss them before being able to use my phone.  (I do not take kindly to this.)  This happened a long time ago (about a year, year and a half?) so I don’t recall exactly what it wanted me to do, but that doesn’t matter anyway; it’s a moot point because I don’t even have an iCloud account!  I had never even set one up.  So why would my phone be nagging me about it?

Apple (like many other tech manufacturers over the years) likes to play dumb when it comes to issues like these.  They make you feel like you’re the only one having the issue, and that somehow, it must be your fault.

Good internet search engines have changed that; now, anyone can search for their issues online and find other people with exactly the same problem(s).  And many of the search results include discussion threads on tech support forums (because manufacturers don’t devote much by way of actual resources to tech support departments anymore), many of which are simply lone questions, hanging out in the wind, waiting for an answer, without any replies.   Or there are replies, but they’re snarky, somehow blaming the person with the problem/question who started the thread.  Or perhaps the solution requires technological know-how that is so far above my head that I’m lost.

Well, so much for that.

Eventually, the iCloud nagging went away on its own.  Problem solved…or so I thought.

The next issue that surfaced (shortly after the iCloud notifications) was that my Voice Control feature would spontaneously activate.  I had no idea what this was, I had never used it before, and I’m not sure I would even be able to find it, even if I went hunting for it on my phone on purpose.

And then, as if by magic, that ceased as well.  Breathe a sigh of relief…or so I thought.

Then, during the later spring and especially in the summer (of this year), the bottom fell out.  My phone went into Meltdown Mode.  A series of headaches popped up.  It was like playing a “Whack-a-Mole” game at a fair, where the minute you smack the little creature back down into one hole, he (or another one) pops up out of another one.  And sometimes, these issues overlapped, disappeared and reappeared, in any combination.  Because of the nature of these issues, it’s tough to separate them out onto a timeline, so the chain of events isn’t exact, but I’ll do my best.

I believe the first thread to unravel was that I began to receive “storage space almost full” messages.  These messages became increasingly frequent, finally reaching a peak fervor of seven-minute intervals (yes, I actually timed it).

When I went to look in my Settings, I realized that my phone was indeed out of storage space.  As in, 0 bytes free.  Yeow.

So, I went on a “housecleaning” rampage.  I deleted all unnecessary pictures.  I deleted several videos.  I deleted a bunch of apps (over the course of several “housecleaning” rounds).  I thoroughly reviewed my settings to the best of my ability, and made sure that a lot of settings were turned off/disabled, so as not to use unnecessary data or space.

But I hadn’t really had too much stored on my phone in the first place!  I had maybe 2600 pictures (I’ve heard of some people having over 8000), I have 28 videos (the longest couple are 11 minutes), and a few PDF files in the iBooks library (again, nothing too earth-shattering).  I have also deleted about 15-20 apps, all old text messages, old contacts, voice mail archives, and cleaned out my browser cookies.  I even regularly permanently delete photos and videos from their 30-day temporary holding area.

None of my efforts seemed to matter.  Nothing I did seemed to make any difference.  The phone didn’t budge.  For every 10 camera-snapped pictures I got rid of, I could only snap one or two new ones.  (Except that if I got rid of 10 full-size pictures, I should be able to take 10 new ones in their place.  But I’d get to about two and if I tried to take a third one, it would give me the same “you don’t have enough space” message.)  And the Settings always displayed “0 bites free”.

Then, sometime in August or early September, the “storage space almost full” message disappeared (thankfully).  Finally!  (Except that the “0 bytes free” oddity remained.)

Around that same time, I noticed that when accessing my Gmail account (via the Safari browser, not the Gmail app or the resident iPhone Mail app), I would get these messages/notifications that said something like, “allow Gmail to use 10MB storage space on your phone?”  Each time, I chose to decline.  They started out kind of mild and random at first, but grew increasingly incessant and annoying.  It didn’t matter which option I chose (accept/agree or decline/dismiss); the message would literally pop up 5-7 times in a row, continuing to pop up until it was “satisfied” (i.e., it decided to stop).  I think I counted seven at most.  Seriously??

Soon after that, another app I use frequently–the Notes app–wouldn’t work right.  I have lots of notes on that app, and I add to some of them pretty frequently.  I would notice that my last edit/addition wouldn’t “take”, usually after dismissing the “allow Gmail to use 10MB storage space on your phone?” message several times in a row.  After a series of messages like that, I noticed that my most recent Notes additions/revisions had been undone, and the file had defaulted back to a previously saved version.

(I learned–the hard way–that these Notes are not actually stored on my phone, but rather, on the email account that the phone is set up under; so they don’t actually reside–and take up space–on my phone, so why this is happening, I have no idea.)

I thought to myself, this Notes app is no longer reliable, so I tried sending myself my various individual Notes files by email (to a different email address), for backup purposes.  None of them went through!  Not a one.  The emails appeared to have gone through (from the phone’s end), but never once appeared in my inbox.  The only thing that worked was to post my notes to my Facebook account for safekeeping.  (And because they’re of a personal nature, I locked them down so that only I could see them.)

Then, I began to get hit with that “10MB storage space” popup on not only when accessing my Gmail via the Safari browser, but also when editing WordPress blog posts and sometimes other sites (also all via the Safari browser, as I have deleted all unnecessary apps, even my Facebook app).

Then, the Photos app went haywire.  My phone stopped registering screenshots; they don’t appear in my Photos app, despite the usual camera-click sound and visual cues (the momentary white screen) that I have taken the screenshot successfully.  When I go into my Photos app, the screenshots I just took are not there.  There’s a blank space there instead, and when I try to click on it, the Photos app crashes altogether, reverting me back to my home screen.

After just a little while of this, I found that when I surfed Google Images and tried to download pictures, it no longer gave me the option to “save image”; it only gave me the option to “copy” where the “save image” option used to be.

Within a day or two, another app got messed up: the Texting function.  Several texts didn’t get sent or received, resulting in frustration between my partner and me, until he realized that I simply had not received his communication.  Some texts went through, while others didn’t.

For about 6-9 months, it seemed like I had traded one “headache” in for another.  One would cease (much to my relief), only for another to take its place almost right away.  (Except for the last week or so, during which time multiple things have gone wrong.)

Once I had Apple Support’s attention on Twitter (that’s the fastest way to get a company to respond, by the way; you “tweet” about it publicly.  They don’t want bad press, so they respond as fast as they can, encouraging you to message them privately).  So I direct-messaged them the applicable information above.  I ended the message with:

“I haven’t upgraded my hardware or software because up until about a year ago, when the first nagging started, I was extremely happy with what I had.  I was also unimpressed with what I was seeing and hearing regarding the newer products.  I’m untrusting of many of the newer functions, and whenever I have ever updated a Mac (or Windows) product since 2010, I have almost always regretted doing so.  I’m familiar with my current system and do not desire to learn my way around another.”  (Yeah, I’m pretty up-front that way.)

And to their credit, they did respond!  Fairly quickly, too.

But their response was:  “Thanks for the detailed response.  We fully understand how frustrating it can be to experience these issues and your desire to keep using a version of iOS that you have come to be familiar with.  However, one of the great things about our iOS updates is that they are designed to not only introduce innovative features, but also to specifically resolve issues that a previous iOS release may have experienced.  Because of this, we highly recommend updating the iPhone iOS to address a number of issues, such as what you’ve described.  We understand your hesitation, but also would like to see your device functioning at it’s best and would suggest updating in order to accomplish that.  What we recommend doing is first backing up the iPhone then updating it using iTunes.”

Wait, what?  Apple, did you even read my message?  At all?  This is not a situation in which the OS was buggy to begin with (and if it was, then why did you release such a buggy OS?)  These are all issues that have surfaced over time, after a long stretch of flawless iPhone performance.  So, how unreasonable is it to simply want the current iOS I have to simply work properly again like it did before?

I swear – Reading Comprehension Fail.

I told them as much (diplomatically) in a reply message…

“Thank you for responding.  Yes, indeed it’s frustrating *sigh*.

But–and I mean no offense here–so is feeling like I’m not being truly heard.

I don’t want a different OS.  I simply want the one I have to continue to work like it always had.  I don’t need any innovative features.  I just want the basic features to work, like they always had.  I’m trying to figure out why they’ve stopped working.  I never did have any previous issues (and therefore, no “bugs” to “fix” with updates).  I lived in bliss, a Happy-Apple-Fan, for about a year…until, coincidentally, the next generation of products had been out for a little while.  Just to ensure that my thoughts are based on some sort of logic, I retrieved a resource that listed both the pros and cons.

Here’s what I found… a Mashable article lists seven reasons not to update.  The #’s 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, and 7 would likely apply to me, with #’s 1 and 2 being the most important and disruptive/annoying.  That’s 6 reasons for me not to upgrade, with at least 2 of them being dealbreakers for me.

To be fair, I then looked at their other article, which lists 9 reasons to upgrade.  I scanned the article.  The #’s 1, 6, and maybe 8 would apply to me, although none of them have me “sold” on the idea; none of them are enough to persuade me to upgrade.

So, looking at this from a logical standpoint, the new iOS, as I had more-intuitively predicted before, does not fit my needs.  It’s not worth the hassle or the extra space.  And I certainly don’t need the extra battery drain (link to Forbes article).

I simply need the previously-beloved functionality to be restored to *my* iOS, which was indeed engineered with *my* (older) hardware in mind.  Since we pretty much know that iOS 10 was designed with the iPhone 7 in mind, and people with iPhone 6’s have seen their phones suddenly work much more slowly (link to Apple’s own support forum, where several people echo that they’re having the same issue), upgrading to iOS 10 can only spell disaster for me.  Especially with “new features” that I don’t care about, and lost speed, functionality, and familiarity that I do care about.  (And besides, even if I were entertaining the idea of upgrading to iOS 10, how would it ever install onto my little 12GB-capacity phone which stubbornly repeats that it has “0 bytes” of free space despite my various attempts to clean it?)”

While waiting for a response, I went digging around in my Settings (once again), and found the following discrepancies…

  • My settings claim that I have 35 videos – I only show 28 in my Photos app.
  • My settings claim that I have 2988 photos – I only show 2690 in my Photos app.

What the hell is this, Apple?  I can think of two possible theories at work here.  The first one is that you released a buggy product as a so-called “finished” one, and it has an issue deleting data completely.  A buggy product should embarrass the shit out of you and you should issue decent rebates to all affected customers simply for the time/headache they’ve put up with, but it happens.

The second theory is much more sinister and even less forgivable, and that is that you engineered it this way on purpose, so the used space would remain taken, failing to become free again when users were under the impression that they were deleting data.

After a year or two of this normal usage, peoples’ available storage space would indeed dwindle to nothing, despite there not being much by way of apps/photos/iBooks/etc stored on the phone.  It’s like one of those money-scamming “worm” viruses in movies like Hackers, that siphons away fractions of a cent into an offshore account, repeatedly, until the offshore account has racked up a large sum, and then the scammers retire to The Bahamas or something.

Except that in this situation, it’s the phone, siphoning (or keeping for itself) the space we believe we’re freeing up when we delete data.  And like the innocent victims in those movies, most people might not notice such small siphoning until it becomes a major problem.  (Except that most people might never notice it because good little sheeple get a new phone every year or two, so you’ll only notice these types of issues if you attempt to hang onto your current phone for longer than that timespan.)

But wait!  We’re not done yet.  There’s more…

That same day or possibly the next day, my entire contacts list suddenly completely disconnected from my text messages, and also from my Phone app itself.  Calls and texts no longer list the person’s name; just the phone number.

At the same time, two other things happened: the Contacts button completely disappeared from the icon row across the bottom of the Phone app.  Thankfully, the contacts are still there, if I go into the Contacts app.

But I got a surprise then, too; it seems as though my Contacts list includes numbers that I deleted when I first got this phone in 2014!  I’m currently trying to verify whether or not contacts I’ve added since then are still there, or if I’ve lost them entirely.

The only response I got back from Apple Support?  The following:

“We appreciate your feelings and concerns for your phone.  At this point the best thing to do is to do a current backup of your phone and then update using iTunes.  In order to work from here that is the best thing to do so that we can make sure that your phone security is updated to current standards as well as work to get these issues isolated so that we can figure out the best steps for resolving them.”

Phone security my ass.  I visit Facebook (with tight security), Gmail, Twitter, WordPress, PubMed,…and that’s about it.  Ain’t none of those websites gonna have viruses or malware on them, because I’m not going to be friending people I don’t know or clicking on a whole lot of links.

But I’ve hit a stone wall.

And since then, my iPhone has decided to ignore me when I push buttons like “Airplane Mode” (or if I’m already in airplane mode, then it won’t let me back out).

The only solution?  Hard-resetting my phone, a ritual I’ve had to go through several times a day for the past several weeks.

Apple now wants to sell us their craptastic iPhone 7 (which is so thin it won’t even take a standard 3.5mm headphone jack without some cumbersome and ridiculous adapter), and it’s pre-loaded with equally-craptastic iOS 10 (which has already necessitated updates for “bug fixes” (link to article on, and there are even mixed feelings about the update itself!)

My partner, unquestionably an outside-the-cage-thinking kinda guy, went on the Deep Hunt for a palatable replacement.  He found me an iPhone SE (link to decent Wiki article).  It replaces the iPhone 5 I have now with a rock-solid, working, functional piece of art that apparently does not come with all of the unwanted bell-and-whistle crap that a lot of people (it’s not just me) are voicing dissent against.  It can run iOS 9, so you’re not stuck with 10.

It came out this year (!) in March of 2016.  I’ve got one foot (OK, maybe just a couple of toes) dipped in the tech world, and I had never even heard about this phone.  You couldn’t get away from all the hype surrounding the iPhone 6 and iPhone 7, but I heard barely a whisper about the iPhone SE (which is also cheaper, and the reviews are pretty stellar, by the way).

My partner says this was the phone that Apple didn’t really want to make, but so many people were getting so loud about their distaste for the newer Apple products that Apple made this phone to keep them happy and more importantly, to shut them up.

If that’s the Apple product that this newer generation of post-Steve Jobs idiots didn’t want to make, well then, that’s the phone I’m going to go with.

And I haven’t actually been excited to get a new piece of technology in a long time.  🙂


6 thoughts on “The Long Dark Tea-Time of My iPhone

  1. Thank you so much for this. Great timing as I was going to head into the phone shop today. Been having huge trouble with my iPhone 5. The guy in the phone shop suggested a few things but they didn’t work. Not eligible to change it out using free upgrade from phone company for another 8 months. Same exact issues with storage, apps not working (especially Twitter!) etc. I sometimes can’t even make a phone call. Updated the iOS thinking that was the issue but it seems to be worse now. Was thinking maybe buying an iPod Touch 6 as it’s much cheaper and I don’t phone people much anyway. But will look into the iPhone SE. Sad you’re having issues too but glad it’s not just me. Solidarity!

    1. Thank you for your comment! 😊

      I totally like your comment, but my browser (or this particular (older?)?) WordPress interface doesn’t give me a “like” button lol 😊

      Anyway, yeah, it seems like these issues pop up in waves, among a wide variety of people (my mom also experienced the same thing, and she doesn’t even use her iPhone like I do!), which leads the conspiracy theorist in me to believe that it’s not just our phones; it may actually have something to do with Apple itself.

      My partner theorizes that they probably have the technology to send signals to phones, or perhaps design the tower system to purposefully slow down (and create errors on) older phones, with the covert goal of “prompting” (pushing) people to go to the store and buy a new one. This worked on my mom; not only did she upgrade, but she got talked into their neverending “rent your phone” plan. Which is *exactly* what Apple wants. Those of us who resist, get penalized. Sure, it seems far-fetched lol. But the technology and motive/vested interest are there. 😊. So glad this helped! ❤️

      1. Just looked at prices for iPhone SE. Cheaper than 6, but still too dear. Going to buy myself an iPod touch for Christmas. But do think I’ll opt for an SE rather than a 6 when I eventually switch out my phone. Thank you for bringing that model to my attention!
        And yes, I do think built-in obsolescence is a huge thing in the tech industry.

      2. You’re very welcome! 🙂 And I think you’re completely right about the planned obsolescence thing!

        I’m bummed; I was supposed to get my SE today, but UPS/FedEx (whomever) didn’t deliver on time. So apparently, it’ll be here on Monday (hopefully!) I’ll keep you posted; I’d also love to know what you think when you get yours! 🙂

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